Reviews - Updated on April 15, 2022

Syndrome is a survival horror set in space that won several awards even before its release and was heavily promoted as a game that stood out from the plethora of indie horror games that flooded the market. Reading the descriptions and previews, one could imagine Alien: Isolation, System Shock 2 and SOMA. The reality, of course, turned out to be much more prosaic. But you can’t exactly call Syndrome an ordinary indie craft.Syndrome game review

Fighting this creature in close combat is useless.

Secondary Syndrome

To begin with, the plot resembles a collection of quotes and cliches called “How to write a horror script in half an hour.” Where SOMA talks philosophically about life and death, Syndrome tells the most ordinary and primitive story for space horror. As usual, our hero wakes up in a cryochamber on an extinct spaceship, he doesn’t remember much, but soon realizes that half of the team died, and the rest turned into terrible monsters, which tore the first into shreds. Naturally, a certain artifact raised on board is to blame for this – because of it, everyone began to behave rudely, aggressively and indecently.

Now we need to get out of here somehow, and the surviving crew members will help in this, who periodically get in touch on the radio and ask to go there, fix that, start the engines on the third deck, activate the shield on the fourth, get the key card on the fifth and return to the third. So you will run the whole game back and forth along the same dark corridors, repeatedly returning to familiar rooms.

Meanwhile, the survivors are cursing, blaming each other for what happened aboard the ship, and urging us not to believe the previous speaker. Here an intrigue arises, which, admittedly, keeps in suspense for some time, but this soap bubble quickly bursts – you can predict the finale already in the middle of the passage, not at all afraid of making a mistake.

And, of course, throughout the game we will collect various diary entries that shed light on what happened here (although everything is clear anyway). But they are written so simply and boringly that you don’t even want to read them.

Syndrome game review

Visual effects in the picture are used without any sense of proportion.

Repetition is the mother of torment

There are also many clichés and familiar moves in the gameplay itself. If you see a scanner that will open the door, if you put the right palm on it, then do not hesitate – soon someone will have to cut off a dead hand. If broken robots are standing around and making you nervous, then don’t go to the fortuneteller – after a while they will definitely turn on!

There are no difficult riddles – sometimes you need to hack some system by passing a simple reaction mini-game. Or synchronize percentages of something in the system – it is decided by selecting the right numbers.

Periodically come across monsters that are very strong in Syndrome. Therefore, you have to run past them as fast as you can (and your stamina runs out) or play hide and seek with your enemies: crawl on all fours so as not to make noise, throw bottles, distracting attention, and hide in lockers. It is not necessary to remind where exactly we have already seen this.

But often an open fight cannot be avoided, and here Syndrome shows some individuality – this is one of the rare horror games where we are given a firearm in our hands. The arsenal, however, is scarce (pistol, machine gun, shotgun), there is always not enough ammunition, and the shooting mechanics are frankly poorly implemented.

Generally speaking, with weapons, Syndrome resembles a kind of Doom 3 for the poor. It’s not even about weapons, but about technical performance, how they work here with shadow and light, how they periodically release enemies at us. It seems that everything is correct and looks good, but it is too secondary and in general it reminds exactly that the game was ten years ago …

Syndrome game review

De-energized robots are pretty unnerving.

Fear, and only

However, the plot, the features of game mechanics, its uniqueness or secondary nature – all this, in fact, is not so important for horror. It’s important to be scared. And Syndrome knows how to scare. Simple “screamers”, silhouettes of monsters flickering somewhere in the distance, rattles and howls around the corner, bouts of clouding with voices in the head and a blurry picture, a sudden blackout and nervous runs to the elevator with a crowd of monsters on the tail – all this, of course, we are too seen repeatedly, but in this case, the tricks work.

Sometimes you really feel very uncomfortable here. When you crawl, listening to the steps of a monster in the hope that it will pass by, and you hear that these steps are approaching, then you nervously look for where to hide with your eyes, and in the end you accidentally break some kind of bottle and freeze, afraid to move, – in these moments of the game you forgive a lot.

The tension is added by the fact that you can only save in strictly designated places for this, the batteries for the flashlight are running out, there is not enough ammunition, and the hero’s health is not restored. Therefore, we have to search every room and every drawer in search of resources, first-aid kits, drinks and food that have a beneficial effect on our well-being. And at the same time, you still need to carefully look around and under your feet – jets of hot steam and bare wires can cripple no worse than another monster.

Another thing is that the monsters themselves do not frighten at all. Poor fellow – with their design and animation! I even want to regret…

Syndrome game review

Even many monsters strongly resemble someone.

***

Syndrome leaves a double impression. It seems that the game has everything, and it knows how to scare, and it’s really interesting to survive here. But somehow everything is too primitive, secondary and rough – there is not enough zest, own thoughts and ideas, a spark of genius, finally. If this doesn’t bother you and you just want to wander in tension through another dead spaceship, cutting through dark, blood-drenched corridors with a flashlight, then Syndrome is definitely worth a try. If you are a more picky nature, then it is better to try or go through SOMA again. Or wait for the release of System Shock: Remastered Edition.

Pros: the game can scare and create an atmosphere of nervous tension; weapons can be used; elements of survival are introduced competently and to the point; great work with sound.
Cons: the secondary nature of everything and everything; predictable plot; too many runs between the same locations; unimportant technical performance; ugly monster animations.

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